Have you noticed? Girls apologize way more than boys.
In my clinical neuropsychology practice, I see all types of children of all ages, shapes and gender blends. One thing that continues to stun me is the predominance of teenage girls who… apologize constantly.
Beautiful girls. Smart girls. Talented girls. Girls from supportive families. Girls from educated homes.
And yet. So many teenage girls enter my office and …. begin to apologize.
“ACHOO! I’m sorry. ”
“Oh I drew that funny, I’m sorry. ”
“I’m so sorry, can you please repeat that again? ”
“I’m so sorry but do you think it’s ok if I go to the restroom?”
Both girls and boys who are little do not apologize for innocuous actions, they are learning to be comfortable in their bodies and learning to control their behaviors- we get it, and they know we get it.
Knocked the water glass right off the desk? “Oops, ok let’s clean it up! ”
Need a wiggle or a stretch break?
Sure, let’s do it!
Not so for the teen age girl. Self conscious, fearful of making mistakes and practically holding their breath, teen age girls just might be the most insecure group on a this planet.
What is going on? Hasn’t everyone seen Wonder Woman already?
So in response, I’ve started a one woman doctor crusade to help teenage girls stop apologizing.
I will usually say to them “do you think a boy your age would have apologized for (— fill in the blank- sneezing, drinking water, erasing math mistakes, drawing a picture that isn’t Picasso…..) ???
For some, they get it instantly and they straighten up and proceed a bit more confidently.
For others it’s still hard. Do you want to know why?
I suspect that for girls, the social expectations are just too high and overwhelming. Social media shows stunning models, their school expects straight As, and their friends…. well don’t get me started.
One little girl I worked with was told on social media by a classmate “you f?! B€#¥, I hope you die” by a classmate. Talk about peer pressure?!
What to do:
Parents- please have The Conversation with your teen. The Conversation is about real expectations. Who we are as humans, flawed, imperfect but so wonderful all the same.
Show them your stretch marks, show them the before and after photos of photoshopped models.
Tell them to stand up straight. To march into a room and how to command attention.
Here’s the message:
All teen age girls are beautiful in their own imperfect skin. You are worthy and you’re good enough. Never apologize for not being enough. Ever.
For more info, check out Dove’s self esteem campaign: